President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison sidestepped questions Tuesday about French anger over the submarine deal that the two nations struck last week.
The two world leaders met in New York City moments after Mr. Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time as president. They exchanged kind words and highlighted the benefits of their trilateral security agreement, which also includes the United Kingdom.
Although neither leader mentioned China by name, the deal was struck in response to China’s military expansion in the region.
“Mr. President, I want to thank you for your leadership and your focus on the Indo-Pacific region. There’s no doubt that you get it,” Mr. Morrison said.
The president responded that the partnership goes beyond the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia.
“Our partnership is in line with all the other democracies in the world,” Mr. Biden said.
Both declined to answer reporters’ questions about France’s frustration over the deal, which neither man addressed in their remarks.
France has erupted in anger after Australia bailed on its $66 billion submarine deal. Instead, Australia chose to work with the U.S. and the United Kingdom in a deal that will provide it with nuclear submarine technology.
In response to the snub, France has lashed out at both countries with scathing remarks by French officials. It has also recalled its ambassadors to both nations and canceled a gala at its U.S. embassy to celebrate their close alliance.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Morrison chose to ignore the spat, instead focusing on the benefits of the deal. They say the pact will bolster all three countries’ security in the Indo-Pacific region.